"...Because communication done well can be called art and because art is a beautiful form of communication that goes beyond any prejudice and constraint. Because It’s Art Darling, It’s Art!"

It’s Art darling, it’s Art !

by Anca Ungureanu


Who is Keith?

“An artist is a spokesman for a society at any given point in history. His language is determined by his perception of the world we all live in. He is a medium between what is and what could be” (Keith Haring)

This is the first thing you lay your eyes on while waiting silently in line to enter Keith Haring – The Political Line exhibition at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. Is the first major Haring show on the West Coast in nearly two decades, displaying pieces never shown before, since the artist’s death, in 1990.

The location of San Francisco is carefully picked, as the city has hosted many of Haring’s artistic manifestations throughout his career. One of my favorites, Untitled (Three Dancing Figures) (1989) is an outdoor sculpture that beautifully decorates the intersection of the Third & Howard Streets.

3 dancing figures

With over 130 artworks, from large scale paintings, collages and cartoon like drawings, to canvases, tarpaulins and sculptures, plus a great number of subway drawings, the exhibition can be seen as a retrospective of Keith short but productive life: a little over a decade of beliefs and response towards the social environment of his era.

My first contact with Keith’s work, was many years ago, while I was traveling to Pisa and have discovered one of its famous murals, a donation of the artist for the local community. Actually, Haring did a lot of interventions in public spaces all over the world, because he truly believed art is for everyone and should be easily accessed by a larger public. Even though I never knew who he was at that time and what role he played as an artist in his days, as soon as I encountered his work I have instantly fallen in love with it, because it was real, vivid and spoke to me like no other artist has ever did.


That’s how I started to look more into it, discovered more and was amazed of his short but blazing and prolific artistic life, his distinct style, marked by purity and integrity, but done in an accessible way, so it could be shared with people, and by people, because it was about them. It was about people’s life, struggles, concerns and fights. One does not need to be an art connoisseur to easily figure out that Haring cared about people. So much that he decided to spoke about their problems to the world in so many ways.


For more than 2 hours while passing through the perfectly addressed exhibition, I was peacefully learning about the history and major events of that time. Haring is one of the most honest and committed artist that has portrayed the social justice, inequalities and changes in 80’s America.

As guest curator Dieter Buchhart said: “Haring understood that art was for everybody—he fought for the individual and against dictatorship, racism and capitalism. He was no utopian, but he had a dream that ‘nothing is an end, because it always can be the basis for something new and different’.”


Through his art he articulated beautifully his most passionate beliefs but also his most intimate feelings. He spoke openly about who he was and about what he most cared of. As an artist, he saw himself responsible to speak out. He had his own instruments and language. All his artworks, drawings, canvases, installations, murals, have been a manifesto of his life and his environment.


Besides his tremendously rich body of work, he left behind something even more precious: his journals – that he was sure one day will be read by others. Dozens of written handbooks accompanied by drawings about his work but also of his relationships and events of daily life.

I happen to be one of the lucky owners of his writings, because for the first time Haring’s journals were published for this exhibition. Reading it makes you feel insignificant but lucky enough to benefit from the immense pleasure that contemplating and reading such treasures brings, and most of all get a glimpse in the life of Keith Haring.


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